Fans will be delighted, the mildly curious exhausted.

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I HATE EVERYONE BUT YOU

A frenetic epistolary novel of friends weathering their freshman years of college.

Best friends Ava and Gen (thinly veiled fictionalized versions of YouTube comedy duo–turned-authors Dunn and Raskin) couldn’t be more different. Ava is a straight-laced, straight, white aspiring screenwriter who suffers from anxiety and comes from a loving family. Gen is a free-spirited, queer, white budding reporter who isn’t afraid to take risks and has largely absent parents. While Ava is at the University of Southern California and Gen is attending Emerson, they maintain their long-distance friendship through continual, hyperbolic emails and text messages. Ava rushes a sorority, writes and produces a short film, and loses her virginity, while Gen joins the newspaper staff, has an affair with a teaching assistant, and tries cocaine for the first time. There are rapid-fire accusations, misunderstandings, and apologies as each young woman tries to manage the consequences of her own actions while still supporting and responding to the actions of her friend. While the authors explore real issues here, including cutting, alcoholism, and gender identity, much of it is lost in the manic back-and-forth dialogue that seems more concerned with cracking jokes than plumbing depths. What might be funny in a 3-minute video quickly becomes wearying in a 300-page novel.

Fans will be delighted, the mildly curious exhausted. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-12932-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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